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Montevideo, August 14th 2022 - 10:36 UTC

 

 

Mounts surrounding Stanley taken by British forces, end of Falklands war

Monday, June 13th 2022 - 10:45 UTC
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Cross at Mount Tumbledown, remainder of the fierce fighting Cross at Mount Tumbledown, remainder of the fierce fighting

The Argentine occupation of the Falkland Islands is coming to an end and Liberation is in the air. Royal Marines, Paras, Scot Guards, and Gurkhas with naval bombardment support were attacking and capturing the Mounts surrounding Stanley, which would inevitably lead to the collapse and surrender of Argentine forces on 14 June.

3 Para was tasked with taking Mount Longdon on the night of 11th June in coincident with the attacks carried out by the Royal Marines on the Two Sisters and Mount Harriet, which were successfully completed.

However Mount Longdon is a long narrow feature with two summits running west to east and as a result of the terrain only one company could advance along it at any time. 3 Para expected resistance from 800 well entrenched enemy soldiers, supported by 3 x 105mm howitzers and 1 x 155mm gun. The area had been heavily mined.

A silent approach was planned until someone stepped on a mine, at which point the enemy opened fire. The fighting was fierce and at one point Sgt Ian McKay took charge of 4 Platoon (after his commanding officer was wounded) and attacked a heavy machine gun position that was causing many casualties. He was killed in the action and was later awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. Eight other decorations were awarded.

After 10 hours of intensive fighting the Argentine forces were defeated, but the human cost was high. 3 Para lost 23 soldiers and the enemy 31, with 50  taken as prisoners.

3 Para remained under heavy artillery fire from Mount Tumbledown for a further 36 hours during which four more soldiers were killed in action.

Terry Peck, a fiercely patriotic Falkland Islander, acted as guide to 3 Para and took part in the fighting for Mount Longdon, along with further anti-Argentine activities during the occupation.

The attack on Mount Tumbledown began on the night of 13th June and continued into the 14th June, concurrent with the attack on Mount Longdon. The principal attacking force were the Scots Guards, supported by a mortar detachment from 42 Commando, 4 light tanks from the Blues and Royals and the Gurkha Rifles. Naval fire support was supplied by HMS Active’s and HMS Yarmouth’s 4.5 inch guns.

The Argentine forces were at Brigade strength (900 soldiers) supported by a battery of field artillery and the British force had only 641 soldiers. It is normally thought that a force attacking high ground should have a superior ratio of three to one to succeed.

A diversionary attack, mounted by the Scots Guards Reconnaissance Platoon and supported by the light tanks, was made on Mount William a sub hill to the south of Tumbledown.

The attack on Tumbledown followed 30 minutes later with the G Company finding the western end of the mountain undefended. They occupied the position and then came under heavy fire, the Left Flank then moved through to occupy the central region of the peak unopposed and then came under heavy fire. The British were pinned down for 4/5 hours.

A second British attack on the left flank overwhelmed the defending forces, at times fighting close quarters with fixed bayonets.  They reached the peak of the mountain but by early morning their attack had stalled.

An attack was then mounted on the eastern part of the mountain and after fierce fighting, including a fixed bayonet charge by the Guardsmen the position was secured by 9:00a.m. The British lost ten killed and the Argentines 30 killed with another thirty taken prisoner.

With all mounts and high ground taken by British forces, the Argentines under General Benjamin Menendez, military governor of the Islands, and disobeying orders from Buenos Aires prepared to surrender.

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